Nothing is more powerful in persuading prospects to become customers than testimonials from existing clients. These personal recommendations tend to carry great weight because they are authentic and demonstrate that real people get satisfaction and results from your products or services.
Of course, some testimonials are more persuasive than others. Here are the six questions to ask your customers to solicit stronger, more effective endorsements (both in writing and on video).
1. What was your problem before you bought from us? The answer to this question helps to establish the testimonial giver’s background or context, so a prospect can decide whether the feedback is relevant to his or her own situation. Notice that the question is framed in terms of a problem. Why? Because problems that need solutions are usually the primary reason that people seek out products and services.
2. What results do you get from our product or service? This is how you get the payoff to the previous question. Encourage the testimonial giver to describe your company’s solution to his or her problem, including what prompted a purchase from you in the first place.
3. What kept you from buying sooner? This provides useful information (particularly if your product is new, unusual, or expensive), because it helps a prospect get in touch with the reasons for his or her own reluctance to buy from you and begin to feel better about overcoming it. Testimonials accomplish this, in part, because they’re much easier to believe than a company’s marketing materials. They present a genuine customer telling the truth about his or her own situation. Prospects sense this honesty and integrity and are often moved by it.
4. What exactly did you like most about what you bought? This is traditional territory for most testimonials. But what’s better here is that you’re asking for specifics. It’s good when a customer testifies, “I like the product.” It’s even better when a customer shares more detail, such as “I like the color choices” or “The customer service is excellent.” It doesn’t matter much which details are mentioned, as long as they’re likely to appeal to prospects who will read the testimonial. Praise that’s highly specific tends to carry a lot more persuasive power than a generic thumbs-up.
5. Why are you recommending this product or service? A testimonial obviously reflects a person’s approval of your product or service, so it’s a waste of time and effort to include the testimonial giver’s willingness to recommend you to others. Instead, cut right to the heart of the matter: Ask for details about why he or she is encouraging others to buy from you.
There’s potential here for the testimonial giver to repeat what he or she likes about your product, but don’t settle for that. Instead, press for a reason why he or she is taking the time and trouble to make this recommendation. You can prime the pump by offering some possibilities, such as: “Are you recommending the product to make life easier for others, or to help others save money, or to provide a shortcut to the good decision that took you several months to make on your own?”
6. Do you have any other benefits you want to mention, or anything else to add? This one’s a wild card question. Usually you won’t get a lot from it, but it’s worth asking because every now and then you’ll get a response that conveys something special about your product or service or provides a unique angle on reasons to buy from you. The answers will surprise you and may include anything from “I really like the owner’s personality” to “They came out at midnight in the rain to fix my equipment when no one else would.”
Use an audio or video recorder to make an exact record of your customers’ answers to these questions. Edit them to readily convey a simple, compelling story that reflects the testimonial givers’ positive experiences with your company. Odds are it will resonate favorably with your prospects.